If you didn’t start at Reflections on “Love Does” by Bob Goff (Part One), I would suggest starting there. Although it isn’t all that important.
The Rearview Mirror
I used to think I could shape the circumstances around me, but now I know Jesus uses circumstances to shape me.
This chapter starts with an examination of a poor choice for future career paired with the rejection of a girl Bob was in a long distance relationship with and his journey to confront her. As he said, it hurts to come in second (although a large part of her choice might have been influenced by his choice of forestry as a future). Bob writes, “I’ve learned that God sometimes allows us to find ourselves in a place where we want something so bad that we can’t see past it. Sometimes we can’t even see God because of it. When we want something that bad, it’s easy to mistake what we truly need for the thing we really want.” (35-36) We are, basically, talking about idolatry. Anything that supplants the Truth for the image of it. For me, this was my past relationships. I didn’t have God, but that didn’t get rid of my desire to be loved, to understand my worth, and to serve someone. If someone had to be at the center then it only made sense that it would be the man I was with. Now I look back and think what a heavy burden that could be, and how much better it is that I find these things first with God. This idolatry taught me a few things. First, that a substitute is never as good as the real thing. Second, how to love well despite circumstances. Lastly, gratitude for good and kind men. Does a good fruit not taste sweeter once you have taken a bite of one that is bitter and sour? Then I can only imagine that the depth of my appreciation and gratitude for a good man has grown because of my experience with other kinds of men.
Go Buy Your Books!
I used to think God guided us by opening and closing doors, but now I know sometimes God wants us to kick doors down.
Through a series of baffling and misinformed errors, Bob found himself rejected from basically every law school. Nobody was interested. He went to the school he wanted in a week before classes started and made his way to the Dean. He then explained that he applied and he wants to become a lawyer so that he can make a real difference. The problem, Bob explained, was that they hadn’t accepted him and without that acceptance, he couldn’t become a lawyer and therefore wouldn’t be able make a difference. The Dean told him he was sorry and Bob said, “You have the power to let me in. All you have to tell me is, ‘Go buy your books,’ and I could be a student in law school. It’s that simple. You just need to say those words.” (42) The guy smiled and dismissed him. So each day, Bob kept showing up. He learned the Dean’s schedule and was always sitting there, waiting. Reminding him that all he needed to say were those words. Sometimes the Dean would acknowledge him, sometimes he’d ignore him, yet there Bob sat. Until the day the Dean said, “Go get your books.” The amazing thing about this story isn’t, to me, Bob’s sheer perseverance. Or the Dean’s grace and mercy. It is how Bob, afterwards, took a particular joy in doing the same for other students who now sit where he once sat. Sometimes we need to kick doors down, and sometimes we need to remember to hold the door open for others.
I used to think Jesus motivated us with ultimatums, but now I know He pursues us in love.
Thus, we arrive at Bob’s love story. He saw Maria and recognized his wife. She saw him and… forgot about him. Love is funny like that. Sometimes it takes people some time to see what is right in front of them. He saw his Maria right before Valentine’s Day. In a misguided attempt to woe her, he made a card he could barely fit into the elevator and delivered it to her. At work. She was mortified and gave him a polite distance for the next six months. That’s when he had the brilliant idea of leaving sandwiches under the windshield wipers of her car. Which is also weird. “Fortunately, Maria understood that for some of us-most of us-the language of love is laced with whimsy. It sometimes borders on the irrational. Like I’ve been saying though, love is a do thing. It’s an energy that has to be dissipated.” (49) Ultimately, three years down the road, we arrive at the proposal. By this point, she had learned his weird was harmless and most likely has just as crazy for him as he was for her. He set up a dinner across the street on a roof top. “When Maria and I finished diner, I got down on one knee and asked, ‘Maria, will you…’ Then the emotion of the moment was just too much for me and I couldn’t talk anymore. As has been one of Sweet Maria’s many outstanding characteristics since-she helped me to finish what I had started, and said, ‘Yes.'” (51) What can I say to this? Such is the weirdness of love, that it makes us do odd and awkward things. Things that get each others attention and leads us, eventually, to the place where the attributes we treasure most are those odd behaviors we recall with affection. Maybe that’s just me? I far prefer the things which make a person unique from others rather than the attributes they share with the breadth and depth of humanity.
Continue reading at Reflections on “Love Does,” by Bob Goff (Part Three).